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How Does Your Company Keep Employees From Loading Apps On Their Pcs?

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#1 estherschindler


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Posted 21 August 2006 - 12:02 PM

Howdy, folks. I'm senior writer and editor at the IT Business Network . I've decided to write a "real world" story about the way that companies (large and small) control their employees' desktop computers.

I'd like your input about what your firm does... and perhaps about what you wish it would do. I might call this a "best practices" article, except that I'm not sure there's any "best" here, just what works for a given company. My aim, however, is to collect enough data to give other IT professionals a sense of the tradeoffs among the varying choices.

This all started because I overheard an IT person complain about her users. The company has 300 employees, many of whom would have been called "paper pushers" in an earlier era. Some of those employees decide to download software and install it on their computers. The specific example was screensavers (some of which carry a payload of spyware, making it a security issue as well as a support problem), but it could have been anything else. The IT pro whom I overheard had looked at a $10,000 hardware solution, but even that required 10 hours a week to keep up with permissions and such. But that didn't sound like a great option.

So I'm curious -- and I dare say, so are a lot of other people.

How does YOUR company deal with employees installing apps on the company computers? My guess is that the answer breaks down in these rough categories.

1. We let them do whatever they want. And then we cope with the consequences.
2. They can install what they want, but we'll only support the apps we install. If they break the computer or get a virus... THEY get to fix it.
3. We control their installations by administrative policy (i.e. "if you install unapproved software, you're fired").
4. We control their installations using technology. What technology would that be?
5. Something else?

Which of these best fits your company's choices? Which option do you wish the company chose?

If you use some sort of technology, please tell me about it. How well does it work? Was it expensive, in financial or other terms? How annoying is it?

Similarly, how well does administrative policy work? Do employees follow the rules, or do they imagine that gosh, installing a screensaver doesn't qualify as an *app*, does it?

I'm hoping to get the article written by the end of the week (which might be pushing it -- I have major dental surgery scheduled for Thursday). So I'd appreciate hearing from you sooner, rather than later.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Esther Schindler

//Mod edit: All contact points edited to preclude spam, etc.
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Edited by KoanYorel, 21 August 2006 - 12:14 PM.

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#2 estherschindler

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 09:16 PM

Thanks to all who replied!

Here's the final article:

Keep Yer Paws Off Your PC: Preventing End-Users from Installing Applications
Surely, users think, downloading a screensaver can't hurt anything!

IT professionals need to strike a balance between user freedom (such as letting them install any app they want) and keeping a predictable and safe computing environment. Several network admins give their advice about the best way to find and maintain that balance -- with tech tips for each operating system.

#3 wheeldawg


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Posted 03 September 2006 - 01:02 AM

I'm reading your article right now.

I'm a teacher and in our district our school seems to be the leader in IT. We have a network and if we are on the network, we can't install software programs unless we are logged on as an administrator. A couple years ago they trusted the teachers at our school, but I let the tech guy re-image my pc and it now requires the admin/password logon.

Certian people have the admin password and can logon to install software. I have it cuz I want to learn more about IT. It was frustrating when I didn't have that access because sometimes I need to install some software. i.e. brought my own all-in-one printer to keep in my classroom and needed to install the drivers from a cd. Oh, I wanted to use a *.wav sound file in a PowerPoint Jeopardy that I made and had to install windows media player cuz our pc are old and didn't even have it.

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